Many adult children are familiar with the refrain their aging parents often repeat; they will only leave their homes feet first and they want to age in place for as long as possible, even when health concerns make remaining at home a challenge. Home can be an optimal place to age – it’s familiar, there are long-time neighbors who can lend a hand, and it provides a sense of stability and control for older adults. But according to a new study, while most aging seniors say they would prefer in-home care, most are seriously underprepared for health and mobility issues as they grow older.
Too often, older adults postpone making changes in their living space to accommodate their future needs as they age. When a sudden health crisis occurs, they soon find that household clutter, stairs, narrow hallways, or tight bathroom access make living at home increasingly difficult. Seniors are also frequently unprepared to manage at-home care. 34 percent surveyed said they had not thought at all about their future care needs.
A little research goes a long way in being prepared for care needs as a result of a chronic or sudden illness or an injury. But a recent national Cross Country Healthcare survey shows that 91 percent of respondents aged 50 to 79 had not proactively researched the care they may need. By 2030, it is anticipated that 21 percent of the American population will be of retirement age, and 85 percent of older adults will have at least one chronic health condition such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.
Planning for the physical needs of in-home care is only one part of the aging-in-place puzzle. Researching care options also includes what aged care services cost, and budgeting for what care elderly adults may require. It becomes more difficult to plan and execute a move as people grow older – if an older adult’s living situation does not support remaining at home, a change, or a renovation, is much easier to accomplish before an immediate need arises.
Being proactive about planning for future health and personal care needs, finances, transportation, housekeeping, meal preparation, and accessibility will help seniors retain their independence and a measure of control over their future.